“Every child is different,” Ms. Hurley said. “Take a deep breath and say, ‘What does my child look like without a pandemic? »» Watch for changes in sleep; eat a lot less or more; new anxious behaviors such as constantly seeking comfort or feeling clingy; a significant loss of concentration; and less interest in connecting with friends, even in preferred ways like social media or video games, she said. “Trust that when you feel that something is wrong in your guts, it’s probably a good idea to get help.”
Besides monitoring health issues, the impetus to ‘help’ our children by doing more for them is sometimes more about us than our children, said Ned Johnson, co-author of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense. to give your children more control over their lives. “
Research has shown that when parents step in to help children who have a frustrating problem, this intervention can reduce parents’ anxiety while increasing the child’s anxiety, Mr Johnson said. This is because the anxious parent gains a sense of control by taking action rather than being helpless on the sidelines, but the child still feels ineffective and stressed.
It can be difficult for parents to let children do more, and possibly ruin everything, when a parent can complete a task faster and more efficiently. But the pandemic has reduced the stakes of some common family situations. For example, when children are distance learning and don’t have to take the bus, they can take responsibility for waking up. If the child sleeps too much, the parents are not stuck playing driver; only the child will suffer the natural consequences of a delay, Mr Johnson said, which will make it easier for parents to shed some control.
With everyone spending more time at home, families can also share chores more easily, even if they aren’t done perfectly. A preschooler with a broom doesn’t necessarily mop the floor well, but the child gets that sense of accomplishment and usefulness that boosts efficiency when encouraged to try it on their own, Mr Johnson said, and that “the adaptation experience is increasing. “
If this all seems like too much work in a pandemic, remember that parents who nurture their children’s strengths and self-efficacy are not only helping their children, but themselves as well. “Parents are really exhausted,” Dr. Waters acknowledged, but a positive, proactive approach is “kind of a win-win. It’s good for your children, ”and seeing children flourish is“ also good for us as parents, ”she said. And her research found that using a strengths-building approach – finding areas where your kids can take on more responsibility – is also correlated with increased parenting self-efficacy, the feeling that “you do. what it takes as a parent. “
Courtney E. Ackerman, author of several books on positive psychology, also advises parents not to wait until the end of the current crisis to instill more self-efficacy in children. Yes, working on building resilience in these unpredictable times can feel like shoveling while the snow is still falling, she said, but that’s okay. “I think it’s still snowing,” she said. “It’s a particularly difficult time now with the pandemic, but life is full of ups and downs.”